Today I get to do one of my favorite things, write about how great Jeff is (granted normally I’m talking about myself in the third person, but not now). Jeff began working for me about five years ago as our case analyst. From the first day Jeff started working for me, I could tell his drive, intelligence, and empathy were going to be invaluable assets to my firm. Jeff quickly learned how to do his job, and pretty much everyone else’s, because he can’t sit still when there is work to be done.
After about a year of working for me, I asked Jeff a simple question “have you ever considered going to law school?” Now anyone who knows me knows that I strongly discourage people from attending law school, so this was unusual for me. Jeff responded that he had, but he was too old now, too busy, and didn’t want to spend the money. So I asked how his grades were in undergraduate, and in his masters degree program (he holds a Masters Degree in Social Work), and he said “Well, in undergrad I partied too much and only had a 3.7 GPA, but in Grad school I buckled down and got a 3.87.” So I told him, with grades that good, as long as he didn’t show up for the LSAT and just drool on the test, he could probably get a great scholarship to Cooley Law School located right here in Grand Rapids.
For some reason Jeff thought I gave him good advice, so he took the LSAT, and lo and behold he got a nearly full scholarship to Cooley Law School. Jeff still had hesitations about the time commitment so we made a deal, so long as he got his work done and came in on weekends or stayed late, he could take three half days during the week to attend classes without any lowering of his pay. I hesitated to pay someone to not work for me for a day and a half a week, but it has been the best decision I have made as a business owner.
To say Jeff excelled at law school would be like saying Michael Jordan had a pretty good career. While in law school Jeff earned eight different book awards. For those who don’t know what those are, in law school whoever gets the highest grade in the class gets the book award. Most people don’t get any, I only got one, he got eight. Jeff was on the Dean’s list every semester he attended law school, and he ended up graduating with a GPA of 3.8. Mind you he did all of this while working full time, raising two pre-teen boys, and dealing with other issues which would have made most people quit. One time Jeff even considered quitting, but realized he had come too far, and he wanted to make sure his boys knew that no matter how hard it may be, you finish what you start.
Jeff is not only an employee, but I can genuinely say he is also one of my very best friends. I know most people say you should never be friends with your employees but I don’t agree with that, if you don’t like spending time with your employees, why would you want them around? Jeff empathy and thoughtful nature have helped me numerous times. I can honestly say that I’m not sure I would have gotten through my divorce without him there to listen. I am proud to have Jeff representing my office, I am proud when my clients tell me how easy and non-scary he made the whole bankruptcy process, but as proud as I am of Jeff his boys are even more proud.
I spoke to his boys after the commencement, and I saw them look at him with respect and love. Jeff has shown them, and everyone else, that no matter how bleak the future looks, not matter how much you want to quit, you just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, make the next right decision, and things will work out. I am thrilled to announce that one Jeff passes the Bar exam, he will be our newest attorney at Mapes Law Offices.